Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

PM defends Parata's performance

Hekia Parata has drawn strong criticism for her handling of education initiatives and problems. Photo /  Ben Fraser
Hekia Parata has drawn strong criticism for her handling of education initiatives and problems. Photo / Ben Fraser

Prime Minister John Key mounted a strong defence of Education Minister Hekia Parata today in a speech during annual Ratana celebrations.

Mr Key said that while there had been many calls to sack her, he did not know of anyone who was more committed to Maori educational achievement.

He said earlier this week that Ms Parata had made mistakes last year in her first year as Education Minister but she had done a lot of things well and he had confidence in her.

Ms Parata was there, too, as part of the National Party delegation being welcomed onto the Ratana marae.

She talked to reporters, the first time since the resignation late last year of Education Secretary Lesley Longstone following a breakdown in the relationship between the two women.

Ms Parata refused to discuss the resignation other than saying she acknowledged Ms Longstone's service and wished her well.

But she admitted she had made mistakes.

"There were one or two mistakes that I need to learn from but facing towards 2013 we have got a world class education system but that needs attention and that's what I am focusing on.''

She would not elaborate on what she considered her mistakes to be, saying it was not her role to critique what had happened.

But she said that she had clear expectations from Mr Key "which I intend to meet''.

She said she was focused on the Christchurch restructuring plan, decisions on which are due to be announced in late February. Last year she visited the 36 schools earmarked for merger, closure, or relocation.

"I've reviewed all the submissions that came in over Christmas and I'm considering the recommendations of those submissions.''

She would be talking directly to the schools involved.

- NZ Herald

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